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If You Want to Use Humor – USE HUMOR

By March 25, 2009February 9th, 2019No Comments
two cats taking selfie photo - demonstrate humor and fun

In one of my LinkedIn groups, a person posted a question, “Consult:  Speaking with an Interpreter…I have a keynote in Peru next week and learned all my Spanish on Dora the Explorer. Any tips regarding successful partnership with an interpreter?”

Several people gave advice of never use humor. I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE.

People worldwide want to laugh, to be entertained, to smile, to feel good. A keynote presenter has the responsibility to inspire, entertain, then educate. And I would emphasize, so do any presenters. For educational sessions, the priorities are reversed.

The key is doing your homework. And if you think you are not funny, use other people’s funny experiences. How about quotes and cartoons (The New Yorker licenses cartoons inexpensively through Cartoon Bank)?

The best source of humor is you–your personal stories about family, work, and friends.  Just be sure it is relevant to the topic. Whenever possible, test your use of humor on friends, colleagues, and in rehearsal sessions.

Here’s what I suggested to the keynote presenter who is presenting in Peru:

I disagree with anyone and everyone saying do not use humor. The advice comes from well-intended people. And the advice is given because most people do not know how to incorporate humor.

I performed over 1,000 improvisational humor shows live on stage and have been publicly speaking for nearly 30 years. The key to successful humor is do your homework. Like all of your messages, stories, supporting points, etc., ensure your humor translates.

For example, use a quote that says something funny in its learning message–particularly one that is Peruvian. Or a personal story with appropriate humor in it. Be sure to wait for the audience to “get it” — that’s the pausing part.

You are not looking for a gigantic belly laugh. You are looking to entertain (that’s what keynoters do – smile)

Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, trainer, consultant, and communication coach.